Frowning at the practice of politicians and bureaucrats travelling on Haj pilgrimage on government subsidy, the Supreme Court on Monday told the Centre that these “goodwill delegations” need to be scrapped to ensure that only genuine pilgrims benefited.

“These goodwill delegations need to be scrapped altogether. They are no longer relevant. Even a team of 9 to 10 persons is not required,” a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai told Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati.

The apex court made the observation after Mr. Vahanvati and Centre's counsel Harris Beran told the Bench that these goodwill delegations were sent to Haj every year to promote the country's image as was being done by other countries.

However, the Bench pointed out that the practice of sending goodwill delegations was started by India in 1967 after the Indo-Pak war as the neighbouring State used the pilgrimage to launch anti-India rhetoric.

“This necessity is no longer there. We will gradually reduce it to four or five and then scrap it altogether,” the Bench said. — PTI